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Makarapa madness gives boost to jobs in South Africa

Makarapa madness gives boost to jobs in South Africa
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At South African soccer matches they certainly know how to party.

The vuvuzela trumpets have become part and parcel of the occasion for the big games.

And also adding to the atmosphere, extraordinary hats known as Makarapas.

The hats are cut of plastic miners’ helmets and decorated in the colours of the wearer’s favourite team. The fad was invented in the 1970s by Alfred “Lux” Beloyi.

“I’m the man behind Makarapa, I’m the father of Makarapa. If you see everybody wearing the marakapa, glasses… it’s because of Big Baloyi !!!”

Where-ever there’s football, there are Makarapas to be seen – they’re especially popular in Johannesburg, the mining capital of the country. And with the world cup finals approaching, local shops are stocking up rapidly with the perfect souvenir for travelling fans.

“It’s coming to the front now because of the world Cup. But it’s a traditional supporters item for a while now. It’s been a locally made South African one”

“These babies are all made by hand, cut by hand, the artwork is done by hand. It’s a bit of a slow process. I work with a partner of mine, Jan. He’s out in the township”

Demand is strong – FIFA alone has ordered 2000 Makarapas, but while others have gone to town, industrialising production in factories and turning out vast quantities, Jan continues to create his hats via the traditional method – cutting them out by hand in his workshop an hour south of Johannesburg.

“This one is an English Makarapa. If the people come from England to see the English players, and if they see England of this Makarapa, they will like it! I will put the England flag here, and write England here. I’m 100% sure that English people are going to like this”

Creating the hats by hand is a boost for local employment especially when big jobs come in – South Africa’s First National Bank ordered 8000 Makarapas from Jan.

“Last year with FNB (First National Bank), I was employing 56 people here. I was so happy, because I helped some people who are suffering, who don’t have something to eat. I was so happy to get some people form their hunger, to get someting to eat”

The selling price for the Makarapas is around 20€ – their makers are hoping they will turn out to be the must-buy accessory at this summer’s tournament.